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Rays Top 50 Prospects: No. 10, Josh Lowe

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The first of a trio of outfielders that helped the Bowling Green Hot Rods to one of their best seasons ever, he has serious tools.

No.10, OF Joshua Edward Lowe, 20 yrs old

Born: February 2nd, 1998 in Marietta, GA

Height/Weight: 6’4” 205 lbs Bats/Throws: L/R

Signed: by the Rays as after being being selected in the 1st rd, 13th overall, of ‘16 draft

Twitter handle: NA

Twitter profile statement: NA

Baseball America Rankings

  • Ranked as the 6th best Rays prospect post-2016
  • Ranked as the 8th best GCL prospect post-2016
  • Ranked as the 11th best Appalachian League prospect post-2016
  • Ranked as the 11th best Rays prospect post-2017

DRB Writers ranking

  • High: 8th
  • Low: 20th

Josh Lowe: Abilities

  • Plus arm strength
  • Plus speed
  • Developing power
  • Above-average defensive abilities

Grades for ‘18 (Pipeline): Hit: 50 | Pwr: 50 | Run: 60 | Arm: 60 | Fld: 55 | Overall: 50

  • Abilities notes: While Lowe doesn’t get rave power reviews yet, some believe he’ll be able to reach higher levels than his grades have shown thus far. It’s possible that such progress and improved hitting make Lowe a true 5-tool prospect in short-order.

Joined the Rays by way of....

The MLB draft after which he was signed for $2,597,500.

Latest Transaction: assigned to Charlotte from Bowling Green April 2nd, 2018.

Facts, Honors, and Awards

  • Only shifted to CF in 2017, making great progress in just one season’s time as Marc Topkin wrote about for BA here.
  • We all know the Rays are high on their Lowe prospects, as they also grabbed Brandon Lowe (now in AA) and Josh’s brother Nathaniel (pre-draft piece available here).
  • Was ranked 21st among CFers by BA pre-2017.
  • Just how much did the Rays like Lowe after making him the 13th overall selection? Read about it here.
  • Bill Balew of BA responded to question about how much Lowe had fallen (since not in top 10) on their list by stating the following,

“Lowe did a solid job of making the adjustment from going to the outfield from the infield. And you’re right, Lowe put together a strong second half and had a good performance during instructs. He is another guy who was in and out of the top 10 over the course of the process of putting the list together and one could argue he belongs there. The Rays realize he is young and a work in progress who is making adjustments in all phases of his game.”

and when I asked which OF prospects we should keep an eye on, he added,

“Obviously Josh Lowe is right there as a strong candidate to progress to the big leagues over the next few years.”

  • In the midst of his turnaround, Lowe made the “Propect Hot Sheet”, where it was noted that,

“It has not been an easy first full season for last year’s No. 13 overall pick, but Lowe began showing signs of a turnaround this week. He homered three times in four days and delivered 12 RBIs during the week, which is even more impressive considering he had two home runs and 17 RBIs all season up to that point.”

  • Before the 2018 season began, Lowe stood out as one of the better performers.

Stats

Josh Lowe 2017

GP 118
GP 118
PA 507
AB 456
Hits 122
Doubles 26
Triples 2
Home Runs 8
RBI 55
SB (CS) 22 (8)
AVG 0.268
OBP 0.326
SLG 0.386
OPS 0.712
BB% 8.3 %
SO% 28.4 %
ISO 0.118
BAbip 0.369
wOBA 0.325
wRC+ 102

Stats Notes: From May 31st through the end of the 2017 season, Lowe was able to lower his SO% to 24% and hit .294/.349/.417 with a .123 ISO and 117 wRC+, possible indications that he’s set to take off in 2018.

Interesting Comparison: Charlie Blackmon

Both Charlie (6’3”) and Josh (6’4”) are left-handed hitters who play a very strong CF. More intriguing still, both were drafted with a strong pitching profile and had plus arm strength and speed to work with.

Charlie showed off similar power and speed numbers at the LoA level than Josh did in 2017 when he played the level in 2008. Charlie managed a .128 ISO, a .379 BAbip, and 13 SB . As shown above, Josh managed a .123 ISO and a .386 BAbip from May 31st onward in 2017.

Where the difference lies, mostly, is that Blackmon was known for better plate discipline, with a much lower strike out rate (11.5 %) than Lowe (28.4 %), but Lowe held a higher walk rate (8.3 %) than Blackmon (5.0 %), showing good patience. Since reaching MLB, Blackmon has managed to keep his strike out rate mostly in the range of 15% to 19%. It’s hard to imagine Lowe getting to that level, but somewhere in the low 20% level seems feasible.

That aside, Lowe has the power and speed combination, and defensive abilities, to provide his team with similar performances should he develop as well as many anticipate.

Notes for 2018 and beyond

The Rays have to be encouraged by the progress Lowe made in 2017. From bringing his strike out rate down as the year wore on to improving his base-stealing abilities, he really put himself in a great position to build on in 2018.

With the Rays promoting him to HiA for this season, he’ll continue to play alongside Jesus Sanchez, providing us - and the Rays - with a direct and intriguing comparison of how his performance matches up with other high-end prospects. He should continue to see time in CF for the most part although he can handle any of the three OF positions with one of the better arms in the system.

The areas for improvement we’ll be looking for on his part include the lower SO% rates to continue in the right direction, and to see whether his wOBA can edge up as well.

With athleticism that should allow Lowe to make any required adjustments, there’s no doubt that he can improve significantly on his 2017 season. It’s possible that his rankings have been too understated thus far, because if he does make the most of his tools, he has the chance to be a superstar.

To get there, Lowe will need to start hitting for average, to improve his in-game power, and to show off that arm. If he does that, he could push for the CF job in AA before the year ends and be on the heels of a call up to MLB at some point in 2020 or 2021, depending on how hard the Rays want to push him.

One thing’s for certain, Lowe won’t be lacking competition in this system, so he’ll have to make the most of his abilities to get the opportunity to show them off.

Josh Lowe: Spotlight Videos

Recap and links of previously listed DRB Top 55 Rays Prospects

*Note: rankings were adjusted and reflect recent additions to the system - it is now a Top 55 list

#55 - RP Kevin Gadea